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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

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Obama’s Air Force No Longer Making Drone Strike Records Public


Obama’s Air Force No Longer Making Drone Strike Records Public
By Lyn Leahz on March 8, 2013

As scrutiny and debate over the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) by the American military increased last month, the Air Force reversed a policy of sharing the number of airstrikes launched from RPAs in Afghanistan and quietly scrubbed those statistics from previous releases kept on their website.

Last October, Air Force Central Command started tallying weapons releases from RPAs, broken down into monthly updates. At the time, AFCENT spokeswoman Capt. Kim Bender said the numbers would be put out every month as part of a service effort to “provide more detailed information on RPA ops in Afghanistan.”

The Air Force maintained that policy for the statistics reports for November, December and January. But the February numbers, released March 7, contained empty space where the box of RPA statistics had previously been.


Those files still contained the RPA data as of Feb. 16, according to archived web pages accessed via Archive.org. Metadata included in the new, RPA-less versions of the reports show the files were all created Feb. 22.

unhappycamper comment: When the report is 'bad', stop the report. How Republican of them....
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 10:01 AM (1 replies)

(Dutch) Afghan police training mission to stop on July 1, cabinet agrees


Afghan police training mission to stop on July 1, cabinet agrees
Friday 08 March 2013

The Dutch mission in northern Afghanistan to help train local police officers will end on July 1, the cabinet agreed on Friday.

However, the four Dutch F-16 fighter jets currently based in Afghanistan will remain there for a further period, ministers agreed.

As well as protecting Dutch forces, the jets are also used to protect the Netherlands’ Nato partners and are fitted with special equipment to trace roadside bombs.

The decision to stop the police training mission means some 200 Dutch military officials out of 500 will remain in Afghanistan.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 09:41 AM (0 replies)

Aleppo at War: Everyday Life in the Death Zone


Buildings burst in a hail of exploding shells, killer shrapnel tears through the air. Around the next corner, bakers work while children comb through debris for corpses. That's Aleppo today -- a city where death is part of everyday life.

Aleppo at War: Everyday Life in the Death Zone
By Kurt Pelda in Aleppo, Syria
March 06, 2013 – 06:00 PM

In Aleppo, every footstep is a crunch. The streets are strewn with rubble and broken glass from destroyed buildings and shattered windows. It's a sound that distinguishes a walk around this war-torn Syrian town from any other city in the world.


If you want to survive in this city gone mad you watch out for flying metal and rubble. If an aerial bomb explodes in the area, people stay under shelter for at least 10 seconds afterwards -- that's how long it takes for the debris hurled into the air from the crater to come raining down, often over a distance of hundreds of meters, with deadly force.

It takes longer for the grey dust from the explosions to settle. It comes from pulverized buildings. The victims of aerial attacks are often coated in fine dust from head to foot. It leaves them looking ashen even before the color of life has seeped from their faces.

Shelling by artillery and bombings from aircraft are such common everyday occurrences in Aleppo now that people don't let it stop them go about their lives -- provided the explosions are far enough away. When the bombs start falling close by, there's chaos and fury -- at President Bashar Assad and his air force, but also at the rebels, for whose presence Assad is exacting revenge on the civilian population. Once the fighter jets have turned away, magnesium flares continue to burn in the sky trailing white smoke. The magnesium is intended to distract heat-seaking missiles from the engines of the jets.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 09:39 AM (1 replies)

House passes bill shielding shipbuilding from deep cuts


House passes bill shielding shipbuilding from deep cuts
By Michael Welles Shapiro, [email protected] | 757-247-4744
March 7, 2013

A bill that shelters a string of shipbuilding programs from budget cuts breezed through the House Wednesday as a Republican majority was joined by more than 50 Democrats.

The $982 billion bill would keep the government going through the end of the year, shift billions toward Pentagon programs and give the Navy more flexibility in dealing with across-the-board sequester cuts.

Democrats who voted for the measure expressed serious reservations.

Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News, said the legislation would protect jobs in the region by maintaining funding for ship maintenance and construction projects. Still, he said, it falls short by not addressing cuts to programs for children and the uninsured.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 09:14 AM (5 replies)

Transfer of US prison to Afghans delayed again


Transfer of US prison to Afghans delayed again
By HEIDI VOGT Associated Press
Posted: 03/09/2013 12:58:30 AM MST
Updated: 03/09/2013 12:58:30 AM MST

KABUL, Afghanistan—The long-awaited transfer of the U.S. detention center in Afghanistan was delayed once again Saturday as a deal struck between the two governments broke down the day before a planned handover ceremony.

The delay suggests that the two sides have yet to resolve thorny issues such as whether Afghans can be held without trial and whether the U.S. will have the power to block the release of detainees it considers particularly dangerous. It also throws a pall over ongoing negotiations for a bilateral security agreement that would govern the presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the current combat mission ends in 2014.

As recently as Friday morning, Afghan workers at the Defense Ministry were arranging transport for dignitaries and journalists to attend Saturday's ceremony at the detention center adjoining the Bagram Air Field, a U.S. base about an hour outside of the capital. The Parwan Detention Center houses Afghans and some foreigners picked up by U.S. forces.

Currently, there is an Afghan administrator of the prison, but the Americans have power to veto the release of detainees. The prisoners held under American authority do not have the right to a trial because the U.S. considers them detainees held as part of an ongoing conflict.

Then on Saturday morning, organizers told journalists that the ceremony had been canceled. Afghan officials declined to give a reason.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 08:30 AM (0 replies)

Leon Panetta: Military 'looked the other way' in case of Jeremy Goulet, and Santa Cruz officers paid


Leon Panetta: Military 'looked the other way' in case of Jeremy Goulet, and Santa Cruz officers paid the price
By Josh Richman
Posted: 03/07/2013 06:28:58 PM PST
Updated: 03/07/2013 08:53:27 PM PST

SAN JOSE -- Some U.S. military officials "looked the other way" rather than aggressively pursuing rape charges against a sexually troubled soldier who ended up killing two Santa Cruz police officers last week, former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the officers' funeral Thursday.

Experts say Panetta's unusually strong words -- which implied that the military justice system might share some blame for the officers' deaths -- highlight the ongoing push to change a military culture that has given rise to an epidemic of sexual assault.

Jeremy Goulet, whose 2006 Army court martial in Hawaii for two purported rapes of military officers ended with a plea bargain in which he accepted an "other-than-honorable" discharge, shot and killed two officers investigating a new groping accusation against Goulet on Feb. 26. Had Goulet been convicted of the two rapes, he probably would have landed in a military prison for life.

Panetta, who just left the top job at the Pentagon last week, acknowledged Thursday that military sex offenders were not always prosecuted for the offenses they committed. "And at some point, somebody pays a price," Panetta added.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 08:23 AM (0 replies)

Army report stemming from Madigan complaints recommends overhaul of psychiatric programs


Army report stemming from Madigan complaints recommends overhaul of psychiatric programs
ADAM ASHTON; Staff writer
Published: March 8, 2013 at 6:37 a.m. PST

The Army did not find a systemic bias against diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder in a deep review of its psychiatric programs dating back to the start of the war in Afghanistan that was prompted by complaints about doctors at Madigan Army Medical Center.

In fact, the review of nearly 150,000 cases shows doctors were as likely to upgrade service members to PTSD from less serious, less expensive conditions as they were to downgrade them. At Madigan, patients charged that doctors were changing their PTSD diagnoses to save the Army money in mandatory disability benefits they would have received for certain behavioral health conditions.

Nonetheless, the Army in a dense, 57-page report concludes that inconsistent understanding of behavioral health resources and poor planning for surges in psychiatric needs continue to plague the service as the Afghanistan War comes to an end. It maps out comprehensive reforms to psychiatric programs, such as simplifying them and offering more resources to Reserve and National Guard soldiers in remote places.

“Perhaps the lesson best learned by the Army from this past decade of war is the importance of proactively preparing for and addressing behavioral health and (disability) concerns,” wrote Lt. Gen. David Perkins, who led the Army Behavioral Health Task Force.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 08:03 AM (3 replies)

Dempsey "committed' to missile defense deal with Russia


Dempsey "committed' to missile defense deal with Russia
By Carlo Muñoz - 03/08/13 04:55 PM ET

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey remains "committed" to finding common ground with his Russian counterparts on ballistic missile defense, and will carry that message to Moscow during an upcoming visit to the region.

Dempsey will meet with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia's top military officer, within the coming weeks, the four-star general's spokesman Col. David Lapan told The Hill on Friday.

Discussion topics and specific dates of the bilateral visit are still being worked between Washington and Moscow, the simmering issue of U.S. efforts to extend ballistic missile defense capabilities into eastern Europe will likely be at the top of those discussions.

"I personally believe that we will find common ground with the Russian military," Dempsey said, according to Lapan.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 07:58 AM (0 replies)

California Coastal Commission Rejects Navy Offshore Training


California Coastal Commission Rejects Navy Offshore Training
Friday, March 8, 2013
Julie Watson, Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The California Coastal Commission on Friday rejected a Navy explosives and sonar training program off the Southern California coast that critics said could harm endangered blue whales and other sea life.

Commissioners meeting in San Diego ruled unanimously that the Navy lacked enough information to back up its argument that the threat to marine mammals would be negligible.

The program had been scheduled to begin in January. Commission staffers had recommended that the panel require additional wildlife protections before endorsing it.

The panel and the Navy could now seek mediation to iron out their differences — or the Navy could simply choose to proceed with the training, as it did in 2007 and 2009. That probably would prompt the commission to sue in an effort to block the program, as it has in the past.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 07:44 AM (1 replies)

Overcoming Woman-Hatred in Afghanistan: 3 Stories


Overcoming Woman-Hatred in Afghanistan: 3 Stories
Posted on 03/09/2013 by Juan

In honor of International Women’s Day, here is a short documentary on women in Afghanistan, focusing on three women who have achieved something in recent years, after Taliban rule was overthrown. The Taliban state was perhaps the most misogynistic in world history, which is fancy way of saying that they absolute hate women.


Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 06:45 AM (1 replies)
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